Mortlock opens with three explorers – Mortlock, Chrimes and Corvis – in an Abyssian jungle, on a quest to find the amaranth flower. The amaranth is the key to eternal life and has the power to raise the dead. Bruised and battered, they eventually find it but its power frightens them and leads them to make a vow: leave it where it is, and tell no one of its whereabouts.
Three decades later and we cut to Josie, a knife-thrower in magician The Great Cardamom’s stage act. We also meet a boy called Alfie, who is an undertaker’s assistant. The two discover they are twins and find themselves caught up in the mystery of the Amaranth and all the grisly havoc it wreaks – including the living dead, the death of loved ones, three terrible aunts who take the form of crows, the evil intentions of the now deformed Corvis and an encounter with a ghastly circus out in the swamp.